Orange may seem like a strange color this time of year. Your home may be sparkling with red and green, blue and silver or just the colors of your daily life.
As the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre approaches, many people across our nation will wear orange as they walk for Gun Violence Prevention this Sunday. They will wear orange because it was a color chosen by teens in Chicago to honor their friend Hadiya Pendleton, the color that hunters wear to send the message “I’m here. Don’t shoot me”.
I’ve read, prayed, listened, pondered, researched and still my heart aches. Most of us, on both sides of the gun conversation, feel desperate and fearful, two emotions that rarely lead to wise actions or grace-filled living.
I come at life from a Christian perspective, but know that most other religions share the same reverence for life that Christ manifests. Religions are not our problem. It is individuals or groups using their particular view of religion or God as a shield, as a divisive lens, as a justification for beliefs, rhetoric or action that would cause harm to anyone else.
As a mother, grandmother, godmother, wife, friend, minister, gun violence survivor, I cannot be quiet in the face of violence and discrimination. I cannot be silent when people continue to be gunned down in their homes or any public place imaginable. I cannot refrain from writing or speaking when a group, any marginalized group, is threatened because they are likened to extremists or because they do not fit the norm or the known. I cannot be quiet while people incite others to take up their guns and commit murder.
It’s easy to feel that we are each trying to empty the ocean with our own little teaspoon. It is easy to feel paralyzed, but inaction is not effective for change. Talk to someone who believes differently than you. Call your elected officials. Vote. Educate yourself and others.
One little thing I am doing with my teaspoon is making orange stoles for at least ten clergy. He or she can wear the stole on Gun Violence Awareness Day June 2nd. She or he can wear the stole on any Sunday to lift up awareness and encourage action. Each of the stoles is a simple orange stole with a little triangle of green to represent hope.
The first orange stole I made was for Bishop Robert Hoshibata, our resident bishop in the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Bob (pictured) has taken a strong stance on gun violence prevention and is imploring every congregation in our conference to engage in education about the issues.
I will be glad when we no longer need wear orange and work for gun violence prevention. Until then, I’ll keep speaking out, praying, writing, voting, trying to have conversations and buying orange fabric.
December 11, 2015 Cynthia Langston Kirk